John Cummins has confirmed that he will run in the Langley riding in the May 14 provincial election.
Cummins is the leader of the BC Conservative Party, which has gained new energy in recent years. Opinion polls have given the party support from the low teens to low 20s over the past year.
The Conservatives last elected an MLA to the B.C. legislature in 1977.
Cummins, MP for Delta from 1993 to 2011, became leader of the provincial party in May, 2011.
He told The Times in September that he was strongly considering running in Langley, as he has lived in the community for the past two years. He decided to publicly confirm that after the Victoria Times-Colonist ran a story last week, saying he would not be running in the 2013 general election.
Cummins plans to continue living in Langley for some time, and also lived here years ago, teaching school. He worked on some Langley-related issues during his time in Ottawa, notably the Roberts Bank rail corridor issue.
The federal government has committed a substantial sum to build overpasses and do other improvements along the rail line, to allow for speedy passage for trains to and from the Roberts Bank port and fewer traffic tie-ups in busy areas along the rail line in Surrey, Delta and Langley.
“I have more than a passing familiarity with the issues here,” he said Monday. “It seemed to me the best fit, to run in Langley.”
Cummins will be competing for votes with BC Liberal MLA Mary Polak, who is seeking re-election. Polak is also minister of transportation. She has represented Langley in Victoria since 2005.
He will also run against Andrew Mercier of the NDP, who has been conducting a grassroots door-knocking campaign since being nominated in September, 2011.
Cummins said the main local issues he wants to concentrate on are tranportation and health care.
He faults the BC Liberals for building highway improvements but making residents south of the Fraser pay an undue share of the costs.
“We’ve got to look at the bigger picture,” he said. “The government built a highway to Whistler for the Olympics, but puts a toll on a bridge used by commuters.”
Cummins also wants to campaign on hospital improvements in Langley, so that Langley Memorial Hospital can deal with the influx of residents to the community.
Cummins will be doing much of his campaigning through his campaign team volunteers, as he will be out of the riding a great deal, particularly during the election period. This week, he will be spending four days on Vancouver Island, as the party nominates candidates in several ridings there.
He expects to be on the road for much of the actual election period, as the party contests seats across the province.
In the 2009 election, Polak received 13,295 votes, while Kathleen Stephany of the NDP received 8,400 votes. The BC Conservatives did not run a candidate in Langley in 2009. Green Party candidate Ron Abgrall received 1,788 votes.
The Langley riding includes all of Langley City, as well as the portion of the Township east of the Surrey boundary, south of 72 Avenue and Crush Crescent to 216 Street, and south of 56 Avenue to 232 Street.